It’s 2023 and retailers still operate blindly, chasing rainbows, losing money to shrinkage and stockouts, and customers cannot find what they came for. Clearly, there is a problem, and there is also a clear solution.
Most retailers today may be aware of RFID and other IoT asset-tracking solutions but still feel clueless and wonder; Is RFID worth it?
While it seems like more and more retailers are adopting RFID, many still hesitate due to cost and deployment process. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits, the costs, and figure out whether it’s worth it or not.
How RFID benefits retailers
Before diving into the costs, it’s important to see how RFID actually benefits fashion and apparel retailers, who, are among the pioneers of such adoption for asset tracking.
Inventory management and supply chain visibility
RFID’s main power in retail lies in the end-to-end visibility and inventory management across the entire supply chain. This allows real-time tracking of all moving assets, easing receivables, and improving distribution across multiple locations. Furthermore, RFID keeps track of item level status at all times, which helps prevent overstock and stockouts.
Tagging items for RFID helps decrease external and internal theft. Employees are aware each item is tagged and tracked so are less prone to risk getting caught. Moreover, unlike hard security tags, RFID tags are usually embedded at the source, meaning you can track and prevent theft in distribution as well as in stores before reaching the sales floor.
With RFID, retailers can get real data on their inventory and sales, as RFID software solutions provide real-time insights for better decision-making. For example, such data can tell you what items sell well, when, and where. This helps retailers make better decisions and actions when it comes to demand forecasting and merchandising, as well as replenishment and allocations across all locations.
Reduced labor costs
Previously, stock receiving, and inventory counts used to take a very long time. These activities require a large number of employees and manual work with a pen and paper, which have a very high potential for errors. With RFID, you need only one or two individuals to go over the entire stock with an RFID reader or even automate it entirely with fixed readers. This makes counts and validations quicker, hassle-free, and more accurate, allowing retailers to conduct frequent inventory counts to improve their accuracy.
Improved customer experience
First of all, RFID helps combat stockouts which are a huge frustration to customers. Secondly, RFID allows the implementation of self-checkout kiosks, smart fitting rooms, and more innovative solutions that create a “wow effect”. And thirdly, RFID offers a seamless omnichannel experience and full online availability as now retailers can trust their stock filing.
The cost of RFID
When it comes to RFID, a main concern is usually related to implementation and maintenance costs.
This was the case when the technology was new, and RFID tags were very expensive. But RFID costs declined drastically, are more affordable, and more retailers have adopted it.
UHF RFID tags, most commonly used in retail, cost between $0.10 to $5 for each tag; however, usually tags are bought in bulk and reduce the cost making it more affordable for most retailers.
As for software license, it differs based on the scope of implementation, such as the number of stores/locations, integrations, capabilities, etc. If you're a small business with a few locations, it will cost you way less than if you're a big corporation.
Readers and hardware
This is the most costly part, handheld RFID readers can cost anywhere between $500 to $3,000 a piece, but this is usually a one-time purchase and can be used for years.
Keep in mind, whether we speak on tags, readers, or software, each has a variety of vendors you can compare between and build the best solution to fit your business needs and budget.
As many retailers find the step of coming up with the full solution overwhelming, Chainlane helps build it for them, partnering with the most trusted vendors and companies for the most cost-effective solution with the best value and return on investment based on your needs.
RFID implementation is a journey, where benefits build one on another. You start with the basics, getting the visibility every retailer strives for, reducing shrinkage, and then increasing sales and online performance. Later, you can even implement innovative solutions to help marketing and attract more customers.
In conclusion, we've explored the various benefits, including inventory management, theft prevention, data analytics, reduced labor costs, and improved customer experience, and it becomes clear that RFID is not just a technology but a strategic tool that can revolutionize retail operations. While concerns about the cost of implementation may have been valid in the past, the landscape has evolved, and RFID is now accessible to a broader spectrum of retailers. The results speak for themselves, with retailers experiencing significant reductions in shrinkage, enhanced inventory accuracy, and a boost in top-line sales.
Don't hesitate; Get in touch with our retail pros to take the first step toward a more efficient and profitable future in retail.